Australia For Digital Nomads: The Local Guide To Work and Travel Down Under

Reading Time: 24 minutes

This post should not be taken as financial, legal, taxation or migration advice. Consult a registered professional. Oh, Nomad! accepts no liability or responsibility to any person for actions taken as a consequence of this information, which is correct at the time of writing. We earn commission from trusted affiliates on selected purchases you make via ohnomad.com (at no cost to you). Prices are in AUD unless indicated and may exclude 10% Goods and Services Tax (GST).

G’day! This Australia for digital nomads mega-guide has everything you need to work and travel down under. Visas, accommodation, saving money and even local lingo (language) – all from an Aussie nomad.

Are you a remote/location-independent employee, entrepreneur, freelancer (or wannabe?) who is considering Australia for an extended digital nomad adventure? Yes? Then, let’s get crackin’ (let’s go)!

australia for digital nomads
Meeting a koala might be a highlight of your digital nomad adventure down under. Photo by Lukas Tennie on Unsplash

Before we begin, the 2020 bushfires destroyed a lot of our beloved koala’s natural habitat. Please consider volunteering with a wildlife program while here, or making a donation ($1 or more) here. Cheers, mate.

Australia For Digital Nomads: Facts

Australia, with its year-round warm weather and famous beaches, is at the top of many travellers’ bucket lists. In 2019, there were 9.5 million visitors to our shores (or more than a third of the country’s total population).

Language(s):English (UK English)
Population (2022):≈26,000,000 (26 million) // Sydney (NSW): ≈5,250,000; Melbourne (VIC): ≈5,000,000; Brisbane (QLD): ≈2,500,000; Perth (WA): ≈2,200,000; Adelaide (SA): ≈1,400,000; Canberra (ACT): ≈450,000; Hobart (TAS): ≈250,000; Darwin (NT): ≈150,000.
Capital City:Canberra (ACT)
States and Territories:New South Wales (NSW); Victoria (VIC); Queensland (QLD); South Australia (SA); Western Australia (WA); Tasmania (TAS); Northern Territory (NT); Australian Capital Territory (ACT).
Currency:Australian Dollars (AUD or A$)
Cost of Living:≈$375-$1250 AUD/week / ≈$1500-$5000 AUD/month*
Average Wage:≈$1250 AUD/week/ ≈$5000 AUD/month
Minimum Wage:$21.38 AUD/hour
Income tax rate:
(2022/23) [AUD]#
0% (Up to $18,200); 19% ($18,201 – $45,000); 32.5% ($45,001 – $120,000); 37% ($120,001 – $180,000); 45% ($180,000+)
WIFI Speed:55 Mbp/s (Average). Higher in major cities.
Power Outlets:3-flat-pin plug (Type I)
Crime:Moderate. 27th most peaceful country (2022); low gun crime/homicide rates.
COVID-19/Coronavirus:Here is the latest information on case numbers and vaccination requirements.
*This amount varies greatly depending on lifestyle and location. #Visit the Australian Tax Office (ATO) for more information. ≈approximately.

Australian History

People first arrived in mainland Australia ≈50-65,000 years ago, and have inhabited the continent ever since – the oldest continuing cultures in the world. Europeans landed in Australia in the early 1600s, with the British declaring it a penal colony in the 1770s. Indigenous (known also as ‘Aboriginal’ and ‘First Nations’) people now represent only 3.8% of the population as a consequence. Consider supporting indigenous-owned/operated cultural tours and/or businesses while in the country.

The White Australia Policy limited immigration to Australia by non-Europeans until the 1970s, but large numbers of immigrants (predominantly from Asian countries) have led to rapid “multiculturalism” in the past 50 years. In 2021, 29.1% of Australia’s population was born overseas. English is the national language, but 300+ languages are spoken. Other than English, the top five are “Mandarin, Arabic, Cantonese, Vietnamese, and Italian“.

Australia Pros and Cons

PROS

  • The standard of living and wages are high;
  • It’s a large country with a diverse range of climates – from snowfields to tropical jungles;
  • Digital nomad services (such as coworking spaces and coliving) are booming;
  • There are endless options for adventurous things to do, see and get involved with.

CONS

  • Expenses and cost of living are high;
  • Long distances to travel to Australia (and within the country itself);
  • Internet speeds can be slow;
  • Visa options for remote employees, freelancers and entrepreneurs are somewhat limited and can take time to apply and be approved for.

While digital nomadism is a modern concept, Australia has a strong ‘nomadic’ travel culture. Retirees who, in retirement, travel widely in their caravans are known as grey nomads. Driving your caravan around Australia is called ‘doing the big lap’ and is a common practice. Backpackers can be found in every town along the East Coast living in their campervans – alongside surfers and new-age hippies – soaking up the sunshine.

“It can be bloody (very) expensive in Australia, brekky (breakfast) can easily cost ya (you) 20 bucks ($20)!”

Climate Classification Map © Commonwealth of Australia, 2008 (CC BY 3.0)

Australia Weather

Australia is in the Southern Hemisphere, so seasons are the opposite of the Northern Hemisphere.

Summer: December to February
Autumn: March to May
Winter: June to August
Spring: September to November

In the north of the country (the Equatorial, Tropical and Sub-Tropical regions), there are two distinct ‘seasons’: Wet Season (October to April) and Dry Season. During Wet Season, expect both higher rainfall and humidity.

Note: It’s generally the case that the further south you go, the cooler the temperatures. Yet, coastal location and elevation can impact this too. El Niño and La Niña events also significantly impact weather in Australia, leading to drier or wetter than average seasons, respectively.

Australia has three main climate zones:

Tropical/Sub-Tropical (Hot and Wet): Darwin, Cairns (Trop.) Brisbane, Gold Coast, Byron Bay, Perth (Sub-Trop.);
Temperate (Cool ): Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Hobart;
Desert/Arid and Grassland/Semi-Arid (Hot and Dry): Alice Springs, Mount Isa.

“You’ll need ya brolly (umbrella) if she buckets down (rains). Deadset (honestly), it’s heaps (very) wet in Darwin”.

When To Visit Australia

When you choose to visit Australia will depend on the type of weather that you prefer and the activities that you’d like to do while you are here. Here are the main travel seasons:

High Season (December to February), Australia’s Summer months are when most Aussies have their annual holidays. Tourist destinations are at their busiest and prices are at their highest during this time, although things become a little quieter in February when children return to school. Australian summers are hot, “from about 20°C to 37°C (68°F to 99°F) in the major capital cities“, but have been recorded up to 50.7°C (123.3°F)!

Low Season (June to August) is winter and when you’ll find the lowest prices for flights and accommodation. For those who enjoy cooler weather, this might be perfect. Remember, Australia is a relatively hot country year-round, with average temperatures “from 11°C (52°F) in the south to 30°C (86°F) in the north” in winter.

Shoulder Seasons (March-May) and (September to November) offer the mildest temperatures and average prices. Spring and Autumn temperatures in Australia are between “17°C and 35°C (63°F and 95°F)“.

For more information on the annual weather and rainfall in each capital city, click here.

“There’s nothing better than an esky (cooler) with a few stubbies (beers) at the beach on a hot summer’s day. Just don’t forget your thongs (flip-flops), sunnies (sunglasses) and mozzie spray (insect repellant).”

Many digital nomads think of beaches like Sydney’s Bondi Beach as ‘Australia’, but there is so much more. Photo by Alex King on Unsplash

Australia Visas

You must have a valid Australian Visa to enter the country (unless a citizen of Australia or New Zealand).

Digital Nomad Visa Australia

I’m often asked, “Does Australia offer a digital nomad visa?“. The short answer is “No”, unfortunately, not at this time. Yet, with 17 Australian visas, here are alternatives that digital nomads travelling to Australia can consider:

VisaLengthCostApply*
eVisitor / eVisa [Subclass 651]Up to 3 monthsFreeOutside AUS
Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa [Subclass 601]Up to 3 months$20 AUD+Outside AUS
Visitor Visa [Subclass 600] Business StreamUp to 3 monthsFrom $150 AUDOutside AUS
Visitor Visa [Subclass 600]Up to 12 monthsFrom $150 AUDOutside AUS
Visitor Visa [Subclass 600] Up to 12 monthsFrom $380 AUDInside AUS
Working Holiday Visa (1st) [Subclass 417 or 462]12 months**$510 AUDOutside AUS
Working Holiday Visa (2nd) [Subclass 417 or 462]12 months**$510 AUDInside AUS
Working Holiday Visa (3rd) [Subclass 417 or 462]12 months**$510 AUDInside AUS
*Apply for this visa from Inside or Outside of Australia?
+An optional application service charge of AUD20 may apply.
**The Working Holiday Visa [Subclass 417 or 462] allows a combined total of 36 months (3 years) in Australia.

Visitor Visas

If you want to travel to Australia for the short-term, ‘Visitor Visas’ such as the eVisitor eVisa (Subclass 651), Visitor Visa (Subclass 600) and Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) Visa (Subclass 601) are the cheapest and easiest options. If you hold a passport from an ETA or eVisa-eligible country, you will be issued a visa that allows you to stay in Australia for 3, 6 or 12 months. Other nationalities can apply for the Visitor Visa (Subclass 600).

Another common question is: “Do digital nomads need work visas in Australia?

Visitor visas do not allow you to work in Australia. Work is “…performing an activity in Australia a person would normally be remunerated for. This could be payment or some other form of reward. [BUT] These activities are not considered work: volunteer work [or] doing work online for your job in your home country…”

So, “work online” with a foreign employer is not a breach of Condition 8101 of the Visitor Visa, as long as your main intention is to visit Australia temporarily; and not to work for an Australian employer. Digital nomads should declare any online work when applying, just in case, as visas are assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Working Holiday Visa

If you are eligible, the Working Holiday Visa (Subclass 417) or ‘Work and Holiday Visa’ (Subclass 462), allows you up to 36 months (3 years) to “have an extended holiday in Australia and work here to help fund [your] trip“.

You can do any kind of work on this visa, including for an Australian employer. When working for an Australian employer, you were limited to 6 months with each employer, but this rule was “temporarily relaxed” in early 2022 and has not been reinstated at the time of writing.

Note: “If you work in Australia as a working holiday maker (WHM), your employer will withhold tax from your pay and you may need to lodge a tax return each year.“, according to the Australian Tax Office (ATO).

Eligibility
You must be a citizen of and hold a valid passport from one of these countries/jurisdictions (Subclass 417): Belgium; Canada; Republic of Cyprus; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China (including British National Overseas passport holders); Republic of Ireland; Italy; Japan; Republic of Korea; Malta; Netherlands; Norway; Sweden; Taiwan (other than an official or diplomatic passport) or The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Or, you must be a citizen of and hold a valid passport from one of these countries/jurisdictions (Subclass 462): Argentina; Austria; Brazil; Chile; China, People’s Republic of; Czech Republic; Ecuador; Greece; Hungary; Indonesia; Israel; Luxembourg; Malaysia; Mongolia; Peru; Poland; Portugal; San Marino; Singapore; Slovak Republic; Slovenia; Spain; Switzerland; Thailand; Turkey; Uruguay; United States of America or Vietnam

You must be aged 18 to 30 years old (inclusive) when you apply. Citizens of Canada, France, Ireland, Italy and Denmark must be aged between 18 to 35 years old (inclusive) when you apply.

“I’m not a bludger (lazy person) but I’m workin’ until this arvo (afternoon)
and I’m already buggered (tired). I wish I’d chucked a sickie (called in sick)”.

If you’d like to talk to an immigration professional, please get in touch and we will try and connect you with someone. Head the Department of Immigration for more info on your visa options and how to apply.

Visa Enquiry

You’ll need a valid passport and visa to visit ‘down under’. Photo by Oxana Melis on Unsplash

Cost of Living in Australia

If you are wondering what the cost of living in Australia as a digital nomad is, it’s generally far from cheap, with Australia currently the 12th most expensive country in the world. But, if you plan ahead and spend sensibly, you can dramatically reduce your costs. Plus, I’ll give you some local tips to save money on everything.

Estimated Cost of Living in Australia

It’s worth starting by saying that the estimates in this post will vary greatly based on your location and lifestyle, so please use these as estimates. You may spend more, or you might spend a lot less.

For a single person, estimated monthly costs are ≈$1,409.65 AUD (without rent).
The average monthly rent for an apartment (1 bedroom) outside of the City Centre is ≈$1,580.65 AUD.
For a family of four, estimated monthly costs are ≈$5,040.87 AUD (without rent).
The average monthly rent for an apartment (3 bedrooms) outside of the City Centre is ≈$2,426.62 AUD.

The most expensive city in Australia is Sydney, followed by Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Darwin and Adelaide, but averages are based mainly on the high rental costs of the East Coast cities.

Non-rent cost differences are less extreme but still noticeable. A budget meal (for one) in a restaurant is ≈$22AUD in Sydney and ≈$20AUD in Adelaide; a mid-range bottle of wine is ≈$18 AUD in Sydney and ≈$17 AUD in Adelaide, for example. So expect to pay ≈10% more in the most expensive cities vs the cheapest.

At the time of writing, the cost of living in Australia is at an all-time high. High inflation and oil/gas prices have increased the cost of petrol (fuel) and fresh food like fruits and vegetables. Yet, how expensive you find Australia will also depend on your current location, the currency your income is derived in and the exchange rate.

ItemCost
Groceries$520 AUD/month
Insurance (Health/Travel)$60-$220 AUD/month
Mobile Phone≈$20-100 AUD/month
Public Transport$120 AUD/month
Coworking Space≈$400 AUD/month
Utilities (Gas, Electricity and Water)$235 AUD/month

“Woolies (Woolworths supermarket) avos (avocados) and cooked chook (chicken) can be dear (expensive).”

Looking for Cheap Places To Travel in Australia?

Choosing a mid-priced city like Brisbane for a ‘home base’ while in Australia can save you significantly. Photo by Marcus Ireland.

Accommodation in Australia

There are many short and long-term accommodation options ‘down under’ for digital nomads. You are spoiled for choice, as the country has a well-established and well-serviced tourism industry, with everything from low cost hostel dorms to luxury penthouse rooms.

The average daily rate for a hotel room is $222 AUD/night;
The average daily rate for an AirBNB is $182 AUD/night;
The average daily rate for a hostel dorm bed is ≈$50 AUD/night, or ≈$120 AUD/night for a private room.

Read my post “Digital Nomad Accommodation Australia: 8 Top Locations“.

Note: This varies greatly between locations. Regional/rural Australian accommodation is cheaper than in the city, but the further you go from the coast, the higher the prices for other necessities, due to the cost of transport.

If you are looking for a place to stay in Australia, here are what you should consider as the advantages and disadvantages of each type of accommodation before making your choice.

Private Accommodation

Hotels

Australian hotels are classified into three categories: Budget Hotels, Mid-range Hotels and Luxury Hotels. Budget hotels offer basic facilities and services, but are still suitable for most travellers who want to stay without any extras. Mid-range hotels offer more amenities than budget hotels, and they come with more modern facilities and services. Luxury hotels provide high-quality facilities and services that cater to your every need.

Motels

Motels are essentially hotels but are aimed more towards budget travellers on their way from one destination to another, or locals travelling for work. They can be found on the outskirts of cities and in regional towns.

How to save money on hotels in Australia

See if the hotel has a loyalty program. This usually applies to the larger hotel chains but can save you a significant amount, especially if you are staying for an extended period or use the same brand of hotel often.

Another way hotels encourage direct bookings is with a best-rate guarantee. For example, one hotel company stated that “If you happen to find a lower rate on the same hotel, room type and dates within 24 hours of making your booking through an official [hotel name] booking channel, we will match the rate plus take an additional $5 off the rate per night“. Check out booking.com, then the hotel’s website. If you find a lower price on booking.com, contact the hotel directly about their price guarantee (often called ‘price match’ in Australia).

You can try calling or emailing the hotel directly and negotiating a better rate. You can also ask for free breakfast, as hotels might add a ‘little extra’ to secure your reservation, especially in Low Season.

AirBNBs

It has been estimated by some experts that AirBnB will account for half of all hotel stays around the world by 2030, and that trend is mirrored down under, with about 100,000 AirbBnBs properties across Australia. You can choose from private rooms, entire apartments, homes, or even… a pyramid or a train carriage!

Just be sure to confirm with the owners how fast the wifi is before booking (if you need high-speed internet), especially if you’re out of the city, as internet speeds in regional and rural Australia can be very slow.

How to save money on AirBNBs in Australia

Politely negotiate with the host, especially if you are staying for an extended period. This is more likely to work in Low Season and with less popular properties that are not on the ‘Trending’ page. Week-long and month-long discounts can save you up to 50%. AirBNB gift cards are available throughout Australia and are sometimes on special (on sale) for 10-20% less than their value.

Homestay

An alternative to AirBnB is Homestay, where independent travellers looking for accommodation can stay with private hosts. The Homestay community “offers you the opportunity to live with a local and to truly discover your destination“, so if you’d like to connect with locals, this could be for you.

Private Renting

Finally, you can simply rent a house or apartment on your own in Australia for the length of your stay. This is a good option for those who enjoy independence and privacy but there will likely be a number of up-front costs, such as a bond and having the utilities (electricity, internet) connected. Most apartments and houses in Australia are rented unfurnished, so furnished properties are less common and are more expensive than empty ones. You might need previous rental references and copies of your passport when you attend a rental inspection. 

“I cracked it (got angry) because the dunny (toilet) in my hotel was rooted (broken).”

Hostels are a cost-efficient and social digital nomad accommodation option. Photo by Marcus Loke on Unsplash.

Shared Accommodation

Hostels

For a livelier, more social accommodation experience, a hostel may be a great alternative to a hotel. Most hostels provide shared accommodation for travellers, digital nomads and backpackers in dorm-style rooms with bunk beds and shared bathrooms; and a smaller number of private rooms (with or without an en-suite). They cost half of the price of a hotel per night but you’ll have to share some of the facilities, like the kitchen, with other guests.

An increasing number of hostels are beginning to cater directly to digital nomads and remote workers by offering a dedicated co-working space and/or remote working facilities, including Selina Central Melbourne. If the hostel has an on-site cafe, this can also be a great place to do some work on your laptop, or a nearby coworking space.

If you are staying in a shared space, like a dorm, find out before you book if the hostel offers lockable storage or lockers. Bring your own lock and secure your unattended valuables, especially electronics and passports. Cheaper Hostels tend to attract a younger party crowd, with more expensive “flashpacker” hostels, attract an older crowd. Alchohol-free hostels or hostels with a ‘curfew’ (no loud noise/parties after this time) are best for digital nomads with early Zoom calls.

How to save money on hostels in Australia

You can try calling or emailing the hostel directly and negotiating a better rate, although this works less often than with hotels, you might have luck in Low Season (and Wet Season in the north) when things are quiet.

Hostels are often looking for staff, so if you work for a few hours at reception every day (or less glamourously, cleaning the bathrooms), you can negotiate a ‘work for accommodation/exchange’ and stay in the hostel for free.

Read more about the Top Digital Nomad Hotels and Hostels in Australia.

Co-Living

Another social alternative to hostels, especially if you’ll be staying in Australia for a few months, is co-living. While people sharing a living space is nothing new, the co-living housing trend has been growing steadily over the past decade. The number of coliving spaces in the U.S. has tripled since 2015, and they are continuing to grow.

There are many reasons why coliving is becoming more popular: the desire for community, cost savings, eco-friendly living and more. Some co-living spaces are intentionally designed for digital nomads and/or remote workers, while others are more informal agreements between housemates (known as ‘flatmates’ in Australia).

Co-Living Spaces in Australia

Co-living spaces are relatively new to Australia, with only a few dedicated spaces in the capital cities, mainly in Sydney and Melbourne. While you will likely pay more than a private rental, there are usually dedicated workspaces, security features and high-speed internet access. You often rent for a month at a time, but some facilities offer more flexible arrangements. Research your options on coliving.com.

Short-Tem Sharing

Short-Term Private Rental is a private, informal co-living agreement between housemates (known as ‘flatmates’ in Australia). You can find people advertising shared accommodation on flatmates.com.au, Facebook Marketplace or gumtree.com.au (the Australian Craigslist). Usually, you will rent a room for a fixed rate per week, fortnight or month and share the bathroom and kitchen facilities.

You may be asked to sign a contract (called a lease) to rent a room for 6-12 months at a time, so make sure your flatmates are happier with a shorter stay if that’s what you want. You may need to pay a bond or security deposit (an amount of money, usually a few weeks’ rent in advance) to cover any potential damages or late payments. Get a receipt for anything you pay and understand any contract/lease that you sign carefully.

House-sitting is an inexpensive form of accommodation for digital nomads. Photo by sarandy westfall on Unsplash.

Alternative Accommodation

House Swapping

If you own your own home, consider swapping it with an Australian and staying for free while you are here. The main benefit to house swapping is the opportunity to act as a tour guide for guests in your town, and to receive this in return. Aussie House Swap is the largest Australian site.

House Sitting

I house-sat for two years in Australia and this is by far my favourite way to work and travel. House-sitting involves taking care of people’s pets and homes when they go away on holiday (vacation) in exchange for free accommodation and no bills. It is a trust-based exchange, so if you approach it with the right attitude, it can be very rewarding. It’s perfect for digital nomads, as you have a quiet house to get work done without interruptions.

I’ve written guides to secure long-term house sits – in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra, Perth, Darwin and more – and my longest house sit was just under 10 months. Yet, the average is around 2 weeks, especially as you build initial reviews. You may also need to be a bit flexible in your choice of location.

I personally recommend Aussie House Sitters, having completed over 20 house sits on this site. Membership is $79 AUD/year and has an easy-to-use website, search, communication and alerts. You can read my full post on the best house-sitting websites in Australia for digital nomads here.

Work Exchange

Alternatives to traditional accommodation include work exchanges, where you exchange a few hours of your labour every day in return for free accommodation (and sometimes, food) from your ‘host’. This can be a fulfilling and fun way to meet local people and see parts of the country that most tourists miss. Yet, unless you have a very flexible working schedule, you may face challenges negotiating labour and hours that are compatible with your existing commitments.

Most travellers simply exchange their labour in basic areas such as agriculture and cleaning but if you have digital skills in areas such as design, marketing, SEO etc. I recommend that you mention this to hosts and negotiate to help in this way. It’s a lot easier than toiling in the hot sun and helps out local small businesses while you travel.

WWOOF Australia

WWOOF Australia (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a volunteer organisation “for farms and food producers interested in organics, bio-dynamics or permaculture“. You exchange 4-6 hours a day of labour in exchange for free food and accommodation (sometimes known as ‘room and board’). Membership costs between $70-$120 AUD/year. There are ≈2750 hosts in Australia. Read my full guide to WWOOF Australia here.

HelpX

A similar site is HelpX, “…an online listing of host organic farms, farm stays, hobby farms, lifestyle blocks, homestays, ranches, lodges, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers, who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience“.

There are 3,000+ hosts in Australia, so it’s worth checking out. Premier membership is optional and is ≈$30AUD for 2 years, but you then “…will be able to view all provided host details and reviews worldwide“.

Workaway

Workaway is another work exchange site, with a slightly heavier focus on cultural exchange and community, with over 500 hosts in Australia and a small number of paid positions as well. Membership is ≈$70-$90AUD/year.

Work Exchanges in Australia are another low-cost alternative for digital nomads. Photo by Daniel Chekalov on Unsplash

Hospitality Exchange

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is the most well-known site in the sharing economy or hospitality exchange, with a community of people who host travellers for free in their homes and receive the same in return. Unlike work exchanges, there can often be a blurrier line on exactly what you are expected to do in return for free accommodation – if anything.

For this reason, being a ‘good’ couchsurfer involves communication with your host and a discussion of expectations. Cooking your host a meal, helping out around the house, doing the dishes, putting out the rubbish etc. are always appreciated. If you approach it just free accommodation, you may not have a lot of success.

Couchsurfing.com is the original (and largest) site for couchsurfing on the ‘net. What started as a not-for-profit, is controversially, now a for-profit company that costs ≈$20 AUD/year for a membership.

Couchsurfing Alternatives

BeWelcome, TrustRoots and Couchers are all not-for-profit and volunteer-run sites that have been started to continue the original mission of couch surfing but are smaller and with fewer hosts in Australia.

Warm Showers

WarmShowers is a hospitality exchange site for cyclists to have somewhere to stay and a warm shower on long-distance rides. I’ve heard that it is a tight-knit community. It costs a one-off fee of ≈$50 AUD for membership.

#vanlife has been increasingly popular in Australia in the past decade. Photo by Manuel Meurisse on Unsplash

Campervans and Caravans

If you would prefer to explore Australia on wheels, campervans and caravans are extremely popular forms of accommodation/transport all over the country. For some #vanlife inspiration, check out Nomads Around Australia.

Campervans are vehicles that include a bed and basic cooking facilities. There are multiple campervan hiring companies in every major city, like Jucy and Spaceship Rentals. You can drive a campervan with a regular driver’s license, but drivers under 25 sometimes pay a slightly higher rate. You’ll also pay more if you return the campervan in a different city than you collected it from, e.g. Pick up in Cairns and drop off in Melbourne.

Costs range from ≈$50-$300 AUD/day. A Low Range ($50-$100 AUD/day) campervan will be an older model vehicle with basic features for 1-2 travellers. A Medium Range campervan ($100-$200 AUD/day) will be a newer model vehicle with more advanced features or size for 2-4 travellers. A High Range ($200-$300 AUD/day) vehicle will be more luxurious and/or be large enough to fit a family.

Prices are lowest in the Low Season and highest in the High Season. Long-term (21+ days) and Early Bird (booking in advance) discounts may reduce the price by 10%. You might have luck with Relocations, where the companies need someone to drive a vehicle back from where another customer has dropped it off. You can get some very cheap deals this way.

Caravans are separate trailers that are towed behind a car (usually a 4WD) with a high towing capacity. You’ll need to hire the car and caravan separately, and while caravans cost around the same as campervans (≈$50-$300 AUD/day), you can always hire them for a short period of time before returning to car-only travel.

Motorhomes (also known as RVs) are larger than campervans but are more spacious and usually with a small kitchen and bathroom setup. Depending on the season, motorhomes cost about the same as a Medium-High range campervan (≈$100-$300 AUD/day) – although large, luxury vehicles can be much more expensive.

You can find Free and Low-Cost Camping and Parking on sites like Free Camping Australia and WikiCamps Australia (app for iOS and Android).

“Look out for coppers (police) on the highway. They are flat out (busy) doing people (giving people fines) at the RBT (Random [alcohol] breath testing).”

Motorhomes suit digital nomads who want a home on wheels. Photo by Julian Ackroyd on Unsplash

Transport in Australia

Australia, at 7.688 million km², is BIG (it’s the world’s sixth-largest country). You will, therefore, spend a bit of time using transport down under. After accommodation, this will be a major expense, so it helps to plan ahead.

Common TripsDistance
Cairns to Melbourne≈3500km
Sydney to Melbourne≈900km
Sydney to Perth≈4150km
Adelaide to Darwin≈3225km

Private Transport

Domestic Flights

To move around Australia, flights will be the quickest option. There are four domestic carriers – QantasVirgin Australia, Jetstar, and Rex – who cover the major cities and regional centres, most with multiple daily services.

Airport Transfers

Most cities have shuttle buses (or transfers) from the airport to your accommodation. Shared transfers (often 5-10 people) can be 50% less than a ‘rider’ app, like Uber. Public transport will be the cheapest way to and from the airport. Here are the public transport options for Australia’s airports:

CityTransport
SydneyBus and Train
MelbourneBus
BrisbaneTrain
PerthBus and Train
AdelaideBus

Taxis

Until only a few years ago, taxis (cabs) were the only way to be driven from point A to B. Now, with Uber-type rider apps, there’s competition. It is sometimes difficult to find an Uber driver for long/out-of-the-way journeys, but taxis collect from almost anywhere. 13cabs and Black & White Cabs are two of the largest operators.

Prices vary from city to city, but comprise a minimum fare + price per km. They have premium spaces at the airport, so will likely be the first thing you see upon exiting. Taxis are convenient, but the most expensive option.

Rider Apps in Australia include Uber, Ola, Didi and Shebah (female-only drivers and passengers).

Car Hire

If you want to travel longer distances, you’ll likely want to hire a car. Depending on the vehicle and how far you want to drive it, average car rental prices are $50-$100 AUD/day. Like accommodation and flights, prices fluctuate between Low and High seasons. The highest prices occur around the Christmas/New Year period.

Ridesharing/Carpool

Apps like Uber call themselves ‘ride-sharing’ but there aren’t many organised ways to find others to share the cost of a car ride or hire. You can try CoSeats, ShareYourRide, Facebook Groups or by asking other travellers.

Hiring a car in Australia helps digital nomads cover vast distances quickly. Photo by Pat Whelen

Public Transport

With such a large country, public transport varies in quality and price depending on the city and state. Overall, urban and suburban transport services are best in the city centres, with fewer services as you go further out.

Intercity Transport

Sydney – Opal Card (trains, trams, buses and ferries);
Melbourne – myki (trains, trams and buses);
Brisbane – Translink Go Card (trains, trams, buses and ferries);
Adelaide – Metro Card (trains, trams and buses);
Perth – SmartRider (trains, trams and buses);
Hobart – Metro Greencard (buses);
Darwin – Tap & Ride Card (buses);
Canberra – MyWay (buses).

Interstate Transport

Major Interstate Bus Companies include Greyhound Australia, Firefly (VIC), Premier Motor Service, Integrity Coaches (WA) and V/Line (VIC).

Greyhound Australia covers the largest number of destinations (see their Network Map here) and offers “free wifi and USB chargers” aboard their buses. They state that “WiFi connectivity is only available on East Coast services and in Telstra coverage areas”, yet my experience is that wi-fi is far from guaranteed on board.

They have multi-day (Whim It) passes for unlimited travel between cities and towns on their network, which can be one of the cheapest forms of interstate transport for those who want to stop regularly. They also offer East Coast-only passes for 7 Days ($249 AUD), 15 Days ($319 AUD) and 30 Days ($389 AUD).

Whim-It PassCost
15 Days$349 AUD
30 Days$439 AUD
60 Days$499 AUD
90 Days$629 AUD
120 Days$749 AUD

Firefly has services between Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide and also advertises onboard wifi.

Premier Motor Service travels along the East Coast from Eden (Southern NSW) to Sydney, Sydney to Brisbane and Brisbane to Cairns but they don’t mention wifi. Like Greyhound, they offer unlimited hop-on-hop-off travel (one-way).

RouteCost
Sydney to Cairns (30 Days)$230 AUD
Sydney to Cairns (90 Days)$330 AUD
Sydney to Cairns (180 Days)$361 AUD
Sydney to Brisbane (90 Days)$103 AUD
Brisbane to Cairns (180 Days)$258 AUD
Byron Bay to Cairns (180 Days)$278 AUD

Finally, there are over 2000 bus companies in the country, many of which only cover a small geographic region (like the Northern Rivers of NSW, for example), so if leave the major tourist centres, you may need a local bus.

Trains are inexpensive but rarely have wifi on board. Photo by Marcus Ireland

Interstate Trains

There are more than 23 interstate train journeys, with trains offering a slow but scenic alternative to flying. Due to how long the journeys take, you can often book a ‘sleeper’ ticket that includes a bed in a small room on the train.

Visit Australian Rail Maps for timetable and routes. Some of the most popular routes include:

RouteNameCost
Sydney to MelbourneXPT$78-$131 AUD
Sydney to BrisbaneXPT$67-$234 AUD
Brisbane to CairnsSpirit of QLDFrom $390 AUD
Melbourne to Adelaide*OverlandFrom $125 AUD
*Limited wifi is available on board (depending on the ticket purchased).

The Ghan (Adelaide to Darwin) and Indian Pacific (Sydney to Perth) train services are tourist ‘experiences’ that cost from ≈$2-8000 AUD and are booked out well in advance.

Interstate Train Passes

NSW: A Discovery Pass gives you “unlimited travel to 365+ destinations across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the ACT” (on any Transport NSW regional train or coach, excluding suburban services) for between 14 days ($232 AUD) and 6 months ($420-$550 AUD). There is no wifi onboard NSW regional trains, unfortunately.

QLD: A QLD Explorer Passoffers unlimited travel for one or two months across the Queensland Rail Travel
network
” for 30 days ($299 AUD) or 60 days ($389 AUD). No wifi on QLD regional trains either.

Hitchhiking

After some very famous murders in the 1990s (where a number of backpackers were brutally slain by a serial killer while hitchhiking), fear around this is ingrained in the Australian psyche and you might get some well-meaning lectures about your safety along the way. Growing up with this, I’ve never hitchhiked here. Please be safe and do not ‘thumb a lift’ alone; especially if you are a woman. You might find hitchwiki helpful.

How to Save Money on Transport in Australia

  • As with everything else, prices are usually cheapest during Low Season (June-Aug);
  • Buying prepaid cards/passes are generally cheaper than single tickets;
  • Interstate buses are the cheapest option overall, but if you can find a fare on sale, it may even be cheaper to fly (especially long distances like Perth to Sydney).
Telstra is Australia’s largest phone and internet supplier. Photo by Akshay Chauhan on Unsplash

Communication in Australia

Phone calls in Australia

The dialling code in Australia is +61. Numbers are 10 digits (04XX XXX XXX), or +61 4XX XXX XXXX from overseas. If you buy a local SIM card in Australia, your number will be on the back of the pack near the barcode.

To use your cell phone (called a ‘mobile phone’ or ‘mobile’ here) in Australia – there are three main options: 1) use International Roaming on your existing plan, 2) buy a local SIM (or eSIM) card or 3) use a global eSIM. If you have a DualSIM phone (like an iPhone 10 or higher), you can use more than one option.

International Roaming is recommended for short-term travel only as it can be very expensive. Check International Roaming rates with your provider. A local SIM (or eSIM) or global eSIM is much cheaper.

Expect to pay between $30-$100 AUD/month for your mobile phone plan. The option that you choose (and your costs) while in Australia will depend on a few factors:

  • How long you will be in Australia;
  • How many calls/SMS you will want to make, and if international calls to your home country are included;
  • How much data you need and whether you’ll need your phone as a hotspot for the internet;
  • Where you will be travelling to? In some locations in rural Australia, only Telstra has coverage.

There are three mobile phone networks in Australia, Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. While many companies (see below) sell local SIM cards, they all use one of these three networks.

Telstra is the largest phone network in Australia, and also one of the most expensive. If you’ll be ‘outback’ for some of your trip though, you might need a Telstra SIM, as they have the best rural coverage (reception).

Note: Other companies that use their network don’t have the same level of coverage, so if they mention that they are on the Telstra network, this doesn’t mean the same as having a Telstra SIM.

Optus and Vodafone are the next biggest providers, followed by many smaller (and mainly city-centric) alternatives such as Belong, Tangerine, NuMobile, Mate, Woolworths Mobile, Coles Mobile, Moose, Aussie Broadband, Southern Phone, TPG, Kogan, Lebara and more.

You can buy a Pre Paid or Post Paid (contract) local SIM or eSIM. A Pre Paid SIM allows you to recharge (top up or pay for) your mobile as needed, usually every 28 days. You can buy these SIM cards in the airport or in a supermarket, often very cheaply ($2 AUD) and then pay for the calls, SMS and data that you need. They usually offer ‘unlimited’ domestic calls and SMS, but these usually have a low data limit (1-10GB or so) per month and international calls aren’t generally included.

A Post Paid SIM is a contract that you sign to pay $X per month for a certain period of time. If you plan to be in Australia for a year or more, this will be more cost-efficient, especially for data and international calls. Just be sure you read your contract carefully, as there can be large cancellation fees for terminating a contract early.

Global eSIMS are usually best for short-term travel, for those who plan to visit multiple countries, or as a cheaper alternative to International Roaming.

Compare plans and check out a coverage map here. For a comprehensive review of the best prepaid SIM card for travelling in Australia, read this article, this article for post-paid SIMS or this article regarding eSIMS in Australia.

Internet in Australia

Wifi

The simplest way to connect to the internet in Australia is via wifi. Unfortunately, Australia has very ordinary internet speeds, ranking 56th in the world. 77.88Mbps is the average download speed nationally. Speeds are better in the capital cities but can be very slow in regional and rural areas.

Your accommodation is likely going to be the main source of wifi, so you may want to get in contact with them beforehand to ask about the speeds. Be aware that most Australians consider 20Mpbs to be a ‘good’ speed, so ask them to perform a Telstra speedtest if you have specific high-speed working needs before booking.

Free wifi is common in areas such as: City and suburban centres; airports; some public transport; government-owned buildings such as libraries, museums and town halls; shopping centres; McDonald’s; Starbucks; Apple stores; some local cafés, restaurants and co-working spaces. See here for a list of free wifi spots down under.

Outside of the city, free wifi can be hit or miss. Some small towns have limited free wifi in the town centre, while others have no public wifi facilities at all. For those who depend on fast internet, it is best to plan ahead and ensure that you have a backup source of internet, such as using your phone as a hotspot.

You can hire a Portable wifi device through companies such as Travelwifi for $8.95 AUD (1GB) to $12.95 AUD (3GB)/day + postage costs. You can purchase a device for between $149 – $179 AUD + data costs.

You can buy a portable wifi dongle from a local provider for those who will be staying in ‘off-grid’ accommodation campervans, etc. and this may be cheaper than using your phone as a hotspot for more than occasional use.

For longer-term travellers to Australia, the internet provider that you choose will depend on your data consumption, speed and location. The major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Australia are Telstra, Optus, Vodafone, iiNet, TPG, Aussie Broadband, Dodo, Belong, Exetel and SpinTel.

How to Save Money on Phone and Internet in Australia

  • Use free wifi wherever possible;
  • Limit your mobile data use by turning off data on your phone when not in use;
  • See if your local provider offers data ‘add-ons’ or ‘international calls minute packs’ for purchase, as these are generally cheaper than a full (monthly) recharge for extras that you may need;
  • See if your at-home provider offers free incoming SMS. If so, you can still receive SMS from friends and family, as well as 2FA (2-factor authentication) for your bank, passwords etc. without turning on International Roaming;
  • Compare plans carefully before signing up.

Coworking in Australia

Finally, the last thing that you may need in Australia is a good coworking space. A digital nomad-friendly coworking space offers you a quiet work-focused area away from noisy shared accommodation, some of the best wifi speeds around and a great way to connect with both local and international freelancers and entrepreneurs.

Coworking is booming in Australia, with every major city now having a number of spaces to choose from. I’ve compared and written posts on all the spaces in Canberra, Byron Bay, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and the Gold Coast but expect to pay $25-$50AUD/day for a hot desk. Not all coworking spaces in Australia offer hot/flexible/casual/drop-in desks, so it is always best to confirm before visiting.

How to Save Money on Coworking in Australia

  • Ask if the coworking space has a free or discounted trial period (many offer a free week);
  • Weekly/monthly or multiple-use passes can reduce the daily rate by more than half.
Digital nomads and coworking spaces in Australia can be the perfect match. Photo by S O C I A L . C U T on Unsplash

Australia FAQ

What Are Australians Like?

Broadly, Australian values include fairness (‘a fair go’), comradery (‘mateship’) and humility (not getting ‘too big for your boots’). People enjoy an outdoor lifestyle, drinking and eating with friends and family, and travelling. Yet, with people from so many cultures, you won’t meet many stereotypes like Steve Irwin, the Crocodile Hunter here. You’ll meet Australians with as many different backgrounds, personalities and values as you can imagine.

Are Australians friendly?

According to Expat Insider, Australians are in the top 25% for ‘friendliness’. Big cities like Sydney and Melbourne are extremely multicultural but can be hurried places, like other metropolises. In my experience, the further from a major city the friendlier people are, but they may also be unused to people from different cultures as it can be very isolated ‘in the outback’. My suggestion for those who want to make friends in Australia is to just smile and start a conversation. Some people won’t respond, but those who do will often warm up quickly and you’ll be invited over for a barbie (barbeque) in no time. You can try meetups, volunteering and hospitality exchanges too.

Should I become a digital nomad in Australia?

With warm year-round weather, accommodation and transport options at every price range, and a huge variety of geography, cultures and people – there is something for everyone. It can be expensive, but if you keep a close eye on your budget, you can travel for a lot less. Hopefully, after reading this guide, you’ve decided that Australia is the perfect place for a nomad adventure!

You’ll be flat out (busy) but rapt/stoked (happy) to be down under. Even out in woop woop (in the country), I reckon (believe) you can get some of the best work of your life done… Before a coldie (beer), of course.

See my Mega-Guide to Australia for Digital Nomads.
See my Complete Guide to 50+ Digital Nomad Visas for Australians.
Want support to make your digital nomad dreams a reality? Get in touch.

Share this post...
error: Content is protected !!